According to the Article 2 of the French Constitution dating from the 28 September 1958, the national emblem of France is the Tricolour flag, blue, white, red.
A bit of history: the origins of the French flag
The present-day French flag features three vertical colour bands (blue, white and red) and finds its origins in the French Revolution. The first version of flag was adopted in 1790 with the three stripes red-white-blue.
On the 15th February 1794, a decree detailed the position of the coloured stripes:
‘The banner and national flag will be composed of the three national colours, in three equal bands, the blue one being attached to the flag hilt, the white being in the middle and the red floating’.
The 1794 flag was commissioned by the Convention to Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825).
The blue and red colours refer to the coat of arms of Paris and the white to the royalty.
There is a great deal of symbolism too: for some, blue and red are the colours of the Virgin Mary, the Patron saint of France, for others, blue refers to the bourgeoisie, white to the clergy and red to the nobility.
After the defeat of Napoleon I in 1815 and the restauration of the Bourbon dynasty, the flag was replaced by a white flag. In the aftermath of the July Revolution of 1830, King Louis-Philippe decided to restore the Tricolour flag. Since then, it has remained the national flag of France.
In 1976, President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing slightly modified the blue colour to make it lighter.
The French flag today
The national flag flies on all French public buildings including ministries, town-halls, prefectures and subprefectures buildings, some museums, historic sites and schools, and war memorials. In French town-halls the Tricolour is joined by the European and the regional flags.
When the President of the Republic speaks publicly on television, the Tricolour and the European flags are traditionally placed behind him. Below is a TV screen capture of President François Hollande’s speech on the 8th May 2015 for Victory in Europe Day:
A sash with the colours of the French flag is worn on the right shoulder in public ceremonial events by members of Parliament and mayors.